A poll conducted for Huntington Banks shows West Virginians are pessimistic that the economy will improve next year.
Only 34 percent of the West Virginians surveyed said they expect the economy in their region to be better in 2013. In comparison, 48 percent of the respondents in Michigan and in Indianapolis, 47 percent of those polled in western Pennsylvania and 45 percent of those surveyed in Ohio think there will be improvement.
West Virginia respondents also are pessimistic about the real estate market. Only 35 percent of those polled said the market is better than it was a year ago. Overall, 46 percent of those surveyed in the five Midwestern regions served by Huntington Banks think the market is improving.
Chad Prather, senior vice president and commercial manager for Huntington Banks in West Virginia said, "It's tough to speak for the respondents. What we can speak of is the clients we talk to every day. What they're telling us is they're seeing improvement, looking forward to investments."
Prather said the only specific negatives he hears come from people in the state's primary industries. That's no surprise. Employment in West Virginia's mining sector has declined by 5,300 in the past year, and manufacturing employment has declined by 2,700.
Prather noted there also are some worries like the so-called fiscal cliff that looms if Congress and President Barack Obama don't reach a budget agreement by the end of the month.
"In most industries we see optimism and hope for improvement once some of these uncertainties get behind us," Prather said. "Overall, we're optimistic. I think the clients we're talking to are as well.
"I thought it was interesting that in 2012, 37 percent of West Virginia respondents did home improvement projects and 55 percent are planning them in 2013," he said. "So overall, do people think the economy is doing better or worse? Read into it what you will."
Respondents were asked how much they plan to spend on home improvements next year. The West Virginia average: $5,173. The overall average: $5,216.
Prather also pointed out that 65 percent of the West Virginians who were polled took a vacation away from home in 2012, while 72 percent are planning to in 2013. "That's a positive indicator," he said.
Those surveyed were asked how much they plan to spend on all of their vacation plans in 2013. The West Virginians' average is $3,392. The average of all those polled: $3,190.
Respondents also were asked how much they expect to spend on all of their holiday purchases this year. The West Virginians' average: $987. The average of all those polled: $959.
Echo Research's survey interviewed 2,100 adult consumers online. The respondents were within the five Widwestern regions served by Huntington Banks. Prather said about 300 of those polled were in West Virginia.
The poll was conducted from Nov. 12 to Nov. 20. Echo Research said the findings have a margin of error plus or minus 2.1 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.